Find a Place to Call Home in Australia

March 29, 2010

I got to live in this happy yellow house in Newtown during my time in Sydney.

Finding a good flat in Australia is a lot like apartment hunting back home. The difference is that if you’re on a working holiday or studying abroad, you probably won’t want to sign a long-term lease, which means you’ll either be subletting or looking for flatmates who only need a roommate for a short time.

There are plenty of ads in the newspaper and online for flatmates wanted (flatmates.com.au is a good site to start with), but your best bet might be looking on the street. Get an idea of what part of town you want to call home, and look for fliers.

There are always ads up around hostels and university campuses. These areas have a large turnover of students and travelers, so finding a room for a few weeks or months shouldn’t be difficult. Expect to pay anywhere from AUS$90 to $140 per week, depending on how many people you share with and location.

Even though you may feel pressure to find a flat quickly when you arrive, don’t jump into a situation until you’ve seen at least three or four different places and have asked all of the right questions. What questions are those you wonder? Why, they’re written right here. Don’t be offended if some of them seem obvious. Sometimes it’s the most obvious questions that are the easiest to forget.

Sites like flatmates.com.au are great for finding "flatmate wanted" ads, but fliers in hostels and cafes are another great resource.

Questions to Ask Potential Flatmates:

1. How much is weekly rent? (You’ll almost always see rent listed as a weekly price, not monthly.)
2. How often is rent due? Weekly, fortnightly (every two weeks)? What day of the week? (All important information if you have a job that only pays once or twice a month and you need to budget ahead.)
3. How much is the bond, and under what conditions do I get it back? (A bond is like a security deposit and can be equal to a week’s rent or a month’s, depending on who you rent from.)
4. Are there other bills that I’ll be responsible for? (Phone, gas, water…)
5. Is there Internet access, and do I need to chip in for it?
6. What’s the cockroach/bug situation? (Don’t laugh. It really is an issue here. Do you want to find out two days after you move in that all food has to be kept in the fridge because the cabinets are infested?)
7. Does anyone here smoke? In the house?
8. Is it alright if I use your kitchen appliances and cookware?
9. Do you share food? Do you split the cost for items like toilet paper, dish soap, cleaning items?
10. Is there heat/air conditioning? (Probably not, but it’s worth checking.)
11. What’s the minimum amount of time you’d like a flatmate to stay? Is there a specific date I need to leave by? (In case a missing flatmate is moving back.)

You may also want to ask about proximity to public transportation, noise, where the nearest grocery shopping is, safety issues in the neighborhood, and anything else that’s important to you feeling comfortable.

Most of all, consider whether or not you can see yourself enjoying getting to know these people. The main advantage to getting a room in a flat, instead of a hostel or travelers house, is that you can live with some friendly locals, so make sure you pick locals who you can imagine turning into friends.

One comment

  1. Good questions to ask for an home in Australia.

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